All companies go through rough times. You may not see them financially at first, but it’s always a matter of time before the rest of the signs of decline reach their bottom line. We’ve been worried about Microsoft’s performance lately. Whether it’s about not being able to deliver compelling products, or having the compelling products not really deliver, it seems that all the corporate genius that was so well put together by Bill Gates is just there to cash a check and be polite.
The irony is to have to worry about Microsoft’s marketing strategy for Windows Phone. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be swimming in so much cash that they can market it with everything? Well, the problem is not really that they don’t market it, but how they market it. I love their Xbox and Office campaigns, but since every department is a different island in Redmond, it’s only safe to bet that they hire different marketing firms to handle each product.
Now why would you say that a good marketing campaign is key to the success of a product or a company? Well, remember those creepy Palm ads of the Pre years ago? Yeah, Palm is dead now. People’s top of mind is determined by perception. If a marketing campaign is done right, consumers will believe in your product and feel an urge to buy. If you send the wrong message to a customer, what they do is simply continue looking even if not everybody notices the negative effect of the ad immediately. A quick example: How often have you seen the Coca Cola brand printed on the floor anywhere? I do know of some rare cases where this works in certain countries, but the reason why you don’t is because Coca Cola doesn’t want to send you the wrong message that their product is something you look down on. Consumer psychology is actually a full blown three-course class in college, and it’s there for a reason.
My concern about Microsoft’s marketing is that they have a great product, but they’re sending the wrong message to the targeted customer. At times, I notice that these ads are focused at making the busy executives that approve them at Redmond happy, but not really the customer Windows Phone is oriented on.
So, let’s start with the basics. Windows Phone is a consumer-oriented operating system, as opposed to how Windows Mobile, which was Enterprise oriented. Those of you who don’t agree, try to remember how long it took for Windows Phone to support VPN connectivity? That’s right, you still can’t!
If we all agree, the whole idea of live tiles, the People hub, the social integration, etc. is all oriented at attracting consumers. I’ll give you a couple of clear ideas of why I believe the ads fail to talk to consumers.
This ad campaign was hilarious. I seriously still consider it one of the funniest I have ever watched, but it’s flawed. Each video focuses on telling the consumer that Windows Phone will help them get in, get out and back to life quick. They mock the owners of other platforms since they’re glued to their phones all the time. Clearly, when the marketing firm sold this ad to Microsoft, they loved it because all the people on the table were businessmen and women that are always in trouble for spending too little time with their families. Sadly what the marketing firm failed to remember, or Microsoft for that matter, is that the average consumer doesn’t have this problem, so here’s what went wrong:
Wrong message #1 – A phone to save us from our phones? Really? Consumers are about the things they can do with a product. If not then the whole app paradigm wouldn’t have made Android, the iPhone and the iPad so popular. It’s about what the apps allow you to do, and not about how the product will stir you away from it. Apps are immersive, and really, that’s what consumers want. The biggest irony is that Windows Phone is actually designed to be immersive with all of its social media integration. The more live tiles I have, the more I’m glued to what’s new, right? Well, sadly the ad says the complete opposite and that’s the idea consumers got. Surely a busy man’s wife may have been stirred to getting his husband a Windows Phone, but without complete enterprise support, the idea became pointless.
Wrong message #2 – If people are glued to competing phones, it’s because they’re not boring. Attacking boredom is the second thing consumers want, and if not Netflix and other mobile products wouldn’t have a reason for being. The ad ended up promoting competing products as not boring instead of mocking them in the end.
Smoked by Windows Phone
Probably the most gangster name ever. This campaign was really stupid on my book. Surely people want to upload their photos on Facebook quick, but if that were really the dominant behavior of most or all consumers, then Instagram would have no reason for being. People want to add substance to their social sharing, and not just do it quickly. Surely business people are worried about sending a spreadsheet quick, but the average consumer is simply different. The result? Well, Windows Phone 7 never took off with these first two campaigns.
This is my Windows Phone
I’ll admit I do love this campaign when it focuses on showing people how you can personalize the phone to fit your needs. There truly is a lot of genius behind selling a product as an extension of you and I’m all for the part of the campaign that quickly shows you that.
My problem is in the counterpart ads where they do another sort-of Smoked by Windows Phone comparison. Surely they are doing it differently and better this time by focusing on showing people what things Windows Phone can do. The problem with the ad is that it’s clearly acted and consumers are not dumb. Another problem is that comparing one phone to another is not always a good combination. Surely it worked for Apple with their Mac vs. PC campaign, but the risk is high. Windows Phone as a product is good enough to stand on its own two feet. Comparing it is a mistake of epic proportions because they’re diluting the brand to prove it’s good.
The bottom line
By now, I’m sure a good number of you agree with me, and a good number of you already have your “you’re a fanboy”, “you hate Microsoft” comment ready. The fact is that whether you’re write or wrong doesn’t change the fact that Windows Phone hasn’t taken off three years later. It’s a great product, with so much potential, but terrible marketing practices in my opinion. Just as the case with HTC, which bring us some of the best smartphones in the market, but fails to give us enough marketing to generate product awareness at times when Samsung rules all the banners at every mall and public bathroom.
I’m sure you all remember the “You” campaign by HTC years ago, and I’m sure you also remember how popular HTC became back then. Why aren’t they popular now? Marketing, or the immense lack of it (irony intended).
Think about it. What’s wrong with Windows Phone? I continue to believe there’s nothing wrong with it. I also continue to believe that if Microsoft continues to stand on stage just to try to sell us their “beautiful live tiles” and no real substance of how powerful this OS is, they won’t succeed. And if you think that they’re swimming with so much cash that they’ll throw all the money they can at the product to make it popular, ask them what they did with the Zune. Not every company is stupid enough to blindly push what doesn’t work, so if you like Windows Phone like many of us do, it’s in our best interest for the product to take off.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree? Leave us a comment down bellow.